2015 Circuit of Ireland winner Craig Breen has started the defence of his victory in the best way possible as he leads the Circuit of Ireland Rally, which is the second round of both the FIA European Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship, by 25.1 seconds after the first day’s action in his Citroen DS3 R5.
The Waterford man took the lead on stage three with the only blip in his performance being a spin on the final test of the day, the Newtownards TT stage.
It was Elfyn Evans who set the pace early on, the Welshman continuing his good start, in his DMACK Ford Fiesta R5, to the season by leading after the first two stages but he was forced out with an overheating engine on SS3.
Keith Cronin also had a tough day as an off on the first corner of the event led to an overheating engine which ruled him out of contention. Robert Consani had another disappointing Circuit of Ireland retiring with a broken drive shaft.
Reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz was right on Breen’s tail after the opening two tests, the Pole was just 0.9 seconds off his Irish rival but he was unable to keep in touch with Breen over the course of the afternoon. He heads into day two in second place. Alastair Fisher crashed out in the early stages of last year’s event but the Northern Irishman holds third heading into the final leg just 2.5 seconds behind Kajetanowicz.
Local man Marty McCormack is enjoying a good battle with Jaromir Tarabus for fourth place, the pair are separated by just 7.2 seconds. Josh Moffett is sixth a further 11.6 seconds behind. Wojciech Chuchala leads the way in ERC2 with a convincing performance in his Subaru Impreza STI while Marijan Griebel leads the ERC Junior category by 19.3 seconds.
8 more stages greet competitors on leg two of the event which includes the famous Hamilton’s Folly test.